Great British baking start-ups share their recipes for success

Great British baking start-ups share their recipes for success

Posted: Wed 24th Aug 2016

Food and drink is one of the most popular sectors for Enterprise Nation members, particularly baking.

So as the UK goes crazy for Great British Bake Off once again, we asked two of our sweet treat members to share their story and what ingredients they think make up the perfect recipe for business success:

How did you come up with your idea and turn it into a business?

Rebecca: During my twenties, I followed my two great passions of travelling and food. I worked as a chef in a variety of locations from ski chalets in the French Alps, to a pub deep in the highlands of Scotland and at vineyard restaurant in New Zealand. It was here that I trained and developed my love of the pastry section.

After working in London when I returned, I felt I had built up enough experience to set up a cake business of my own, and returned to my native Nottingham where a local food market had opportunities for new food start-ups.

It was a fantastic place to test new ideas and gain customer feedback. I started off doing all kinds of baking but began to see my gluten free and vegan cakes proving popular as they were difficult to source in the city.

In April this year, I took the decision to focus solely on the gluten free and vegan market, as I felt having a strong USP made it easier to market the business.

Yvonne: I began as a hobbyist off the back of learning patisserie at college while training to be chef making celebration cakes.

I stopped making cakes for quite a while while I concentrated on my hospitality career and then I began my hobby again after my sister asked me to make a cake for my nephew's birthday.

I had forgotten how enjoyable it was so I decided to dust off the mixer and get baking again. It was from this that I came up with the name Kake making celebration cakes for all occasions.

Then the cupcake trend exploded but I didn't want to do heavy sugar paste topped cupcakes so I researched my market and decided I wanted to do dessert style cupcakes instead focusing on unusual flavour combinations, a real indulgent treat, for celebrations or ordering a box of cupcakes.

At the time I was inspired by Georgetown Cupcake and American-style baking. I liked what they were doing as well as UK businesses such as Lola's Cupcakes and Hummingbird Bakery, so with the concept in my head Cupkakery was born.

I operated Kake and Cupkakery separately in case one side was more successful than the other, but both sides of the business were working so I merged the two and that's how Kake and Cupkakery came to be.


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What has been your greatest success and how did you achieve it?

Rebecca: My greatest success has been having a stall at a brand new vegan market in the city centre of Leicester in June which attracted a large number of people from all across the Midlands.

The organiser had visited the market I already sell on in Nottingham and invited me to take part. With high interest on the Facebook page, I had to utilise every spare space in my small kitchen where I work from home to produce a higher volume - it paid off, we sold out!

Yvonne: My greatest success is to be still baking five years on, I have some wonderful customers who I have served for years as well as nearly weekly recommendations to new customers. I don't rest on my laurels and I'm only as good as my last cake. I know my market, know what my customers want and aim to deliver consistently tasty cakes.

But on top of that I've been a cupcake championship finalist three times, have been featured in the PR and marketing excellence column in the Guardian, had a recipe published in a national cupcake magazine, and even Lord Sugar gave me business advice in a newspaper column.

All these little things are huge to me as I'm just a tiny business but when I see an opportunity for PR I go for it because you never know what can come out of it.


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Which other food-related entrepreneur inspires you and why?

Rebecca: Locally, I am really inspired by The Sauce Shop which produces a fantastic range of chilli sauces ketchups and a divine salted caramel sauce!

The couple behind the business began on the same market place where I started in Nottingham, making all the sauces from scratch at home. They are now stocked in food shops and delis nationwide and have just been listed on Harvey Nichols online.

Nationally, I admire Pip and Nut (also an Enterprise Nation member) for the concept of taking a very simple product, stripping it back to its natural elements and producing a really enticing range of flavours.

Yvonne: I'm so impressed by Levi Roots. I remember watching him on Dragons' Den and slightly cringed when it came to watching him handle the numbers (as in the Den its all about the numbers) but wow, he is now a well established brand who had one product, a BBQ sauce, and took it to the next level with some major brand extension.

Now he has a restaurant (or a 'rastaurant' as he calls it), sauces, ready meals, drinks etc. I'm really proud of his success and it just proved that Peter Jones saw his charisma over everything else and understood that people buy from people.

It's important to understand that and build a rapport with your customers whether that's face to face or through social media. I'm a chatty sociable type so engaging with people comes quite naturally to me.

What do you think are the key ingredients in the recipe for business success?

Rebecca: A strong idea. I started out doing all kinds of baking but found it's quite a competitive area and I quickly learnt I needed to specialise to really stand out and began focussing on the vegan and gluten free market.

Listening skills. Listen to all feedback from customers. Listen to what they like or don't like and ask them what they would like to see.

A 'never give up' spirit! You wonder what you're doing sometimes when you're up at 5am to decorate cakes or get battered by wind on the local market stall, or get knocked back from a potential stockist. It can get disheartening at times, but you just need to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and get back to the kitchen!

An eye for attention to detail. The smallest of margins make all the difference, such as really attractive decoration and the ability to finely balancing delicate flavours.

Yvonne: I think the key ingredients are determination, hard work, building relationships, and belief in yourself and the product or service you are selling.

What baking treat do you recommend entrepreneurs eat to help them through the day?

Rebecca: Recently, I have began to experiment with using more natural forms of sugar such as maple syrup and Medjool dates rather than the regular refined sugar which give a really sharp spike to your blood sugar levels, and then that big sugar crash.

Our Peanut Butter Brownie Energy Balls are made from dates, almonds, peanut butter and raw cacao powder which are a great little snack at anytime of the day. They are also simple and quick to make (perfect for busy entrepreneurs) and freeze really well for when you need that sweet treat!

Yvonne: It has to be a cupcake of course with a nice cup of coffee or tea.


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Top image credit: BBC

Food images credit: Rich Nixon

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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